Tuesday, October 16, 2007

After Elli's article: "How good was the IBL really?"

There’s little doubt that Our Man Elli In Israel’s exposé of the Israel Baseball League’s rocky first season will have a dramatic impact on the league's second season when it comes to consideration of players and fans alike.

But while Elli’s article is still being circulated and reprinted in Jewish weekly newspapers around the USA (home of the all-important league backers and financers), and while we await word on which smart publisher is signing that deal for Elli to write the definitive book on the subject, our man points us to a site that examines the IBL from a different viewpoint.

bIBLemetrics, "a blog for Israel Baseball League statistical analysis," is run by a fan and software engineer in Israel and takes all the statistical information from that first season of Israel baseball and spits them out with expert analysis (not too different than the kid blogger at the New York Times and the TMZ stats--except that this guy does it for a living):
I was a big baseball fan as a kid, but lost interest when I finished high school nearly 20 years ago. This year, partly thanks to the IBL, I'm back with a vengeance. And I'm returning to one of my childhood dreams: to be the next Bill James. Instead of going up against the experienced statheads of Baseball Prospectus, though, I can start with the field to myself, right here with the IBL.

If a statistical analyst of the MLB is a sabermetrician, it seems appropriate that the IBL should have iblemetricians. So that's what you can call me.

I've already downloaded the IBL's box scores and game logs (see the Scoreboards section of their website), and I'm working on the software to extract the data from them. Some of the questions I hope to address once I'm set up:

* Park effects: Does Gezer Field inflate offense? If so, by how much? Do park effects change our assessment of who were the league's top players?

* In general, did the most valuable player awards go to the right players?

* What is the advantage to batting second (if there is one)? With two teams sharing each home field, we can compare games with the same venue but different "home" and "away" sides.

* By how much does Beit Shemesh (or any other team) increase a game's attendance?

* Any other questions on your mind that can be approached with baseball statistics?
Even more important, bIBLemetrics susses out:

What level of baseball did the IBL play?

It was clearly far from major-league standards, but did it reach minor league levels? If so, which level of the minors - AAA (the highest)? AA? Single-A? Rookie ball?

The answers can be found at bIBLemetrics. The site has been in full swing since the week Elli Wohlgelernter’s article stunned Israel and the sports world. His landmark piece of journalism and this site are a perfect combo.

1 comment:

iblemetrician said...

Glad you like the site. Thanks for the link.

(To make sure it's clear: I don't do this for a living! I'm a software engineer with a newly-rediscovered baseball addiction.)

In case you're curious, I enjoyed the IBL and hope it survives and thrives, but that doesn't change the fact that Elli's article was an excellent piece of journalism. It was outrageous that no local journalist cared to cover the league seriously during the season. (Reprinting league press releases doesn't count.)

The IBL has some work to do if it wants to make this last. Avoiding and ignoring media criticism doesn't solve anything.